Thursday, May 26, 2005

America's Next Top Model (Cycle 4) - 4x12 "The Girl Who Walks On Water"

Naima, then. Can't say I was entirely disappointed since I'd always had some level of affection for her, but her Covergirl shot just looked so forced and empty. But I suspect that Tyra et al chose her because of her performance at the fashion show. Doing an inverted turn on the catwalk? That's breaking the fourth wall, son.

I am disappointed that Kahlen didn't win, not just because I'm crushing on her potty-mouthed innocence I predicted her to become America's Next Top Model. Going into the final judging, I seriously thought that she was going to win; according to the Reality TV principle of leading the audience on only to give them the exact opposite, I thought that the judges were favoring Naima only to set us up for Kahlen's amazing "come from behind" win. The emotion that Kahlen showed when she lost out was quite potent, too; Kahlen, sweetcakes, give me a call.

As for this cycle of Top Model, I shall officially crown it a success (unlike what Heather "The Mad Hungarian" Havrilesky said on Salon), though the first half of the season bordered on the tedious. When VH1 aired the Top Model marathon, it struck me how the show picked up steam after Tiffany was eliminated, and the watershed momentousness had little to do with the sheer spectacle of Tyra's eruption. Rather, Tiffany represented a particular ideology of Tyra's: to transform a ghetto mama into a "real loyve top mo-dull!" The problem that I had with such an ideology is that it dulled the narrative teeth of the show. Because "everyone" was rooting for Tiffany (and I'll have to admit that I wanted her to succeed more than she did), the show really didn't show the meaty and trashy stuff that makes good reality tv. The show also had a panoply (or, more accurately, a quintet) of comparable sob stories: Lluvy had a fish-ugly past, Brandy was ghetto-fab and knew it while Keenyah was straight outta Compton, and Noelle was a single mama. All these stories diluted what power Tiffany's might've held across the board; however, she did get to play the role of the big sister/mentor, which as a half-hearted subscriber to white liberal ideology, allowed me to wallow in self-content complacency. The system does work!

But once Tiffany left, the affirmative action kid gloves came off and we got back to trashy good fun. Ogle at Keenyah's engorged waistline! Wonder at Brittany's stone dead drunkenness and goatish laugh! Wince at Michelle's gaucheness! And so on, and so forth.

What separated this cycle from last, however, was that the show was able to create sympathetic characters for whom we could easily root to balance out the inevitably self-deluded divas that are a staple of reality tv. (In addition to the heroes and villains, we also got a character whom we could pity, Michelle, which of course made us feel better for ourselves, since we're not nearly as psychotic as she is.) Kahlen overcomes her shyness! Aww, she's cute! And Naima's hair is cute!

So the moral of the story: have cutey nice girls!

Indie rating: Saloon - "Happy Robots"

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